From Mr George "Gubby" Trotter OBE
Sir, In the many and fitting tributes to the late Oliver Reed, I have seen no mention of his true and abiding love of the game of cricket, and I do feel that this should be placed on record before it is too late.
I got to know Oliver Reed very well during a three-day drinking spree on an island in the Mediterranean. I cannot now be sure which year it was, or indeed which island it was - Malta, perhaps, or maybe Corsica - but I well remember that towards the end of the second day Oliver (as I had then come to call him) suddenly cried out: "This is ace cricketing weather! Who's for a game back at my place?"
Very soon we had sorted out two sides, one of which was to be called the English Drinking XI and the other the Maltese Navy XI, although they were in fact 11 sundry Maltese fishermen who seemed keen enough on the idea. Or were they Corsicans? No, I think they were Maltese...
As soon as we had mustered 22 players, we turned to Oliver and said: "We're ready for a game back at your place now. Incidentally, where is your place, old man?"
"Somewhere in the wilds of the Home Counties," said Reed, and laughed so hard that he nearly choked to death. But it was typical of the man to buy everyone a round of drinks and promised them all a game of cricket if they ever came to Hertfordshire. Or was it Berkshire?
From Mrs Dorothy Haywain
Sir, I acted for a short while as housekeeper to the late Oliver Reed (nobody ever acted for a long while as housekeeper to the late Oliver Reed), and I well recall once answering the bell to his country house and finding 11 Maltese fishermen standing there. Or maybe Corsican.
"Buon giorno," they said, "We have come at Mr Reed's invitation to play a game of cricket."
"There must be a misunderstanding," I responded. "Mr Reed is filming in northern Spain."
I believe that they did eventually track him down in Spain, but the terrain was too rough for a proper game, and he took them out drinking instead.
From Sir Hubert Fflowers
Sir, In all this no doubt well-deserved stuff about Oliver Reed, I am surprised nobody mentioned the late Dirk Bogarde's overriding love of cricket.
I remember him once saying to me, "People often wonder why I left my lovely home in Provence and came back here to Blighty. But they have never guessed why. Can you guess, Bucky?" ("Bucky" was a mispronunciation of my nickname "Bouquet" - based on my surname Fflowers.)
"Well," I said, "I had guessed it had to do with the arrival of Peter Mayle in Provence."
"Not at all," he said. "It was because I missed cricket. Many actors are fanatical about it."
"Are they?" I said. "Well, I knew that Harold Pinter was..."
"You have no idea just how keen Harold is on cricket! Did you know?" said Bogarde, "that his dramatic style is modelled on the rhythms of Test cricket? Brief periods of meaningless activity interspersed with meaningful pauses of inactivity?"
I often wonder what he meant.
From the Rev Norman Widgeon
Sir, I am surprised that in all these tributes to the late Dirk Bogarde and Oliver Reed, there has been no mention of the very real passion for cricket enjoyed by the late Cardinal Basil Hume. I well remember umpiring a match between an All Star Showbiz XI, for which Reed and Bogarde were playing, and the Gloucestershire Atheists XI, for whom Basil Hume liked to turn out to show his broadmindedness. The All-Stars hit a swift 153 all out (D Bogarde, not out 28, O Reed, 15 retired paralytic) and the Atheists were tottering at 82 for 8.
"Only rain will save you now, your Grace," I joked to the Cardinal. To my amazement he went down on his knees to pray. Two minutes later the heavens opened and no further play was possible.
As Hume said to me later, with a wink: "I think that shows that if God really does exist, he has more than a passing interest in cricket."